Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Saga of Airfix Figures
Airfix released their first figures in about 1959. They were HO/OO. HO is 1/87th scale and OO is 1/76th scale. They are both model railroad gauges, HO being popular in the US, Europe, and Japan. OO being popular in the UK and former Empire countries. The did HO/OO with the intent that people who did model trains in either scale could use them. The figures were closer to HO than OO for the first three or four sets, then they increased in size, just slightly. Compare the Station Personnel figures with the Civilians. About HO compared to about OO.
Over time 1/76th scale became popular with wargamers and military model builders in the UK and former Empire nations, Canada, Australia, etc. Airfix and later others, did military models targeted often at both model builders and wargamers. By the early 1970's 1/72nd scale was becoming popular with military modelers and wargamers. Companies like Hasagawa made 1/72nd scale figures and equipment to go with the extensive range of aircraft in 1/72nd scale.
So, Airfix size bumped up again. Compare their first edition Afrika Korps with their second edition Afrika Korp, by this time the figures were essentially 1/72nd scale, but they were still labeled as HO/OO. Compare them with the old Matchbox figures that were 1/76th scale, they are much smaller. It can be seen with the last figure set made by Matchbox, their British Paratroopers, they are 1/72nd scale and much bigger than their other sets.
Eventually, 1/72nd scale became the standard for soft plastic figures and Airfix relabeled their old stets as 1/72nd scale figures. Over time, some companies for various reasons have allowed the scale of their figures to creep upwards and sometimes they have done figures of various sizes, mostly due to poor quality control. Getting the figures the exact perfect size to match the rest of your figure line can be really hard.